Some of you may also know that I'm somewhat of a boot collector. I love boots, all kinds of boots. I'm always looking for colored boots, like blue, green, or red. They're very hard to find, especially in a small city like mine. I have a purple pair, a red pair and a royal blue pair. I had a green pair but I stupidly left them at the gym two years ago and went home in my running shoes. Never saw them again, as you might imagine. But, over the years, I have accumulated a lot of boots.
Anyway, last weekend the nonstop heavy rain and pretty much my entire collection of boots had an unfortunate encounter.
("No!" you gasp. "Yes," I say sadly)
We have a double bin with bench lids next to the sundeck door of our kitchen. One side is footwear storage for my husband and the other side is footwear storage for me. Somehow we got a seeping kind of leak happening there. The rain has been pounding the deck, which we now realize is not angled correctly, and it managed to soak through the wall at floor level and thoroughly marinate my bin o' boots over a period of several days, maybe even a week. Those that weren't sopping wet were damp and covered with mold. Very few pairs escaped. Sometimes one of a pair was fine, but its mate was destroyed. In some cases, both were damaged and in other cases, both were all right. I carried three large bags of boots down to the garbage and said good-bye to them. The blue and red boots are all right, but the purple ones and numerous pairs of black, and brown pairs, some leather and some suede, perished.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, my husband's bin, with his much less numerous pairs of shoes and boots, totally escaped the carnage.
So, am I upset? Surprisingly, no. First of all, my favorite and most often worn pairs of boots survived the fatal swamping, mainly because I've been wearing them all recently and I have a bad habit (so my husband says) of not putting things back. So they were standing warm and dry on the floor of the computer room while their mates died a slow and watery death on the other side of the wall. Secondly, I don't know why, but I'm just not that attached to stuff, especially replaceable stuff. There is absolutely nothing I own that it would break my heart to lose, except all my files of unpublished stories and chapters, and I believe I have them safely backed up. The things I would hate to lose are things that can't be replaced, like health, limbs, organs, memories, people, and of course my beloved cat who spent much of the afternoon sleeping on top of either my husband or me. (We took turns being cat-mattresses) Thirdly, I fully expect that the universe is already mobilizing its forces to send new and wonderful pairs of boots toward me. I'll keep you posted as I acquire them! I'll TRY to stick to low heels.
And now, allow me to present the latest chapter of Slave to A Gladiator. I'm sorry, but apart from a bit of kissing, it's still worksafe. However, the NEXT chapter will open in the bedroom.
Slave To A Gladiator
By Brit Columbia
Pairing: Dee and Ryo
Rating: Still worksafe. Sorry! There's a kiss, though.
Spoilers: to Volume 7.
Disclaimer: Dee, Ryo, Commissioner Rose, Diana and Ted all belong to Sanami Matoh, who created the popular manga, FAKE. But Serena, Cliff, Annette, Mrs. Hinkle, Rowan, Officer Herndt, Lara Shirner, Jordan and Niko are mine. I was not paid in any way for writing this story. Summary: The party gets a little crazier and Dee and Ryo finally go home.
Author's notes: Please read and review. I'll try to post in two weeks, but this is Christmas busy-time, so it might be three.
Thank you to the_ladyfeather and shelley6441 for being such kind, patient and thorough betas.
Slave To A Gladiator
"He kept pretty quiet when you whacked him with the sword," said Serena, playing along with Ryo. "I bet I could get some noise out of this tough guy."
"Oooh!" exclaimed the blond woman, looking around her for support. "Wouldn't that be exciting?"
"Why, yes," murmured the Commissioner, a slow smile spreading across his face. "It certainly would be."
Ryo could feel Dee trembling at his side. He knew his partner well enough to understand that it was not from fear, but more from trying to prevent himself from attacking the Commissioner or saying something challenging to him. He felt that forcing Dee to endure a humiliating spanking under the laughing eyes of the Commissioner would be an unforgivable act, a betrayal of a lover's trust. He just could not bring himself to do that to Dee, no matter how angry he was with him.
"Well, I'm sorry, but that's not going to happen," said Ryo, ignoring the disappointed expressions on the faces around him. "I'd much rather give him his punishment in private." He looked directly at the Commissioner as he said these last words, hoping that the man would get the message. He and Dee were a couple, and although the Commissioner had in fact been one of the first to realize that several months back in the spring, he still persisted in acting like he believed Ryo and Dee were involved in a temporary or casual kind of relationship.
The Commissioner met his eyes and once more seemed to be trying to communicate a message of his own. "What a pity," he murmured, "but of course, it's your decision." He smiled at Ryo. "I wish you a satisfying outcome to this little power play of yours, Ryo. I'll be very interested to see if your partner's behavior is better in the weeks ahead."
"I hope so, sir. Now, if you'll excuse us--"
"A moment, Ryo. If I may?" Before Ryo had any idea what the Commissioner was going to do, the man had reached out a hand and used it to raise Dee's chin. Helpless, enraged green eyes met cool, amused blue ones.
"Dee," warned Ryo, holding tight to his partner's collar, as Dee smacked the Commissioner's hand away from his face.
Dee didn't glance at him, as his eyes were still locked with the Commissioner's. His lip lifted in a snarl and his face slowly flushed pink. He didn't say a word, however, and Ryo was proud of him.
Rose chuckled, a low, mocking sound. "Laytner, please forgive me for saying so, but a slave collar becomes you very well."
"Ryo, may I speak?" Dee's eyes darted toward Ryo, who raised his eyebrows in surprise.
Ryo noticed that Dee had failed to address him as 'Master', but that was all right with him. He didn't actually want to play this game at all in the presence of Rose. "All right, but I'm trusting you to speak civilly." He tried to ignore the way the corner of the Commissioner's mouth twisted into a superior little smile.
"Thank you." Dee returned his attention to the Commissioner. "Sir, you know what else becomes me?"
"I await this little revelation raptly, Slave."
"Going home with him, that's what." Dee tipped his head in Ryo's direction, smirking. "If he wants to beat my sexy ass, he can go right ahead, 'cause I can totally take it. He's probably gonna do it in the bedroom, if you get my drift. And that's gonna be-come me better than anything." The smirk became a grin that crept slowly across his face, while the superior smile faded from the Commissioner's.
Serena smiled at Ted, who rolled his eyes and pretended to gag. Ryo blushed, and wondered how, after the long list of embarrassing things that had happened to him at this party, his cheeks were even still capable of getting warm. He had to get out of there. He hoped he wouldn't have to work with any of these people in the near future. The two unknown women were looking from him to Dee enviously.
"All right, that's enough. We're leaving now." Ryo jerked on Dee's leash and took a couple of steps toward the door. "Thanks for the party, Diana. Nice to meet you Serena and Niko. Come on, Dee."
As they exited the coat check area with their coats slung over their arms, they passed Boris, Diana's admirer, who grinned at them nastily. "Ha, I cannot believe I thought that you two could actually be competition for the lovely Diana," he said. "I wish you both a 'fag-ulous' evening, and good riddance, of course." He gave them a mock bow, and turned away contemptuously.
Dee glanced sideways at Ryo's grim profile as they proceeded toward the door. "Psst, Master," he said. "Could I--"
"No," said Ryo. "No more violence. We're going home."
"No violence, I promise. Just some fun. Childish fun, you know? You'll laugh, I guarantee it."
Ryo hesitated, a muscle in his jaw bunching. It was evident that he was feeling stung by Agent Brasov's casual contempt.
"It'll only take a moment," Dee added. "Less than thirty seconds." He badly wanted to get that asshole back for his nasty words, and also, he had to be honest with himself, for the business of Boris kicking that coffee table into his escape path earlier.
To his surprise, Ryo suddenly assented. "Okay," he said, letting go of the leash. "Thirty seconds."
Dee flashed him a grateful grin and handed him his coat. Then he turned and rapidly tiptoed back toward the unsuspecting Agent Brasov.
Meanwhile at the far side of the room, Diana was pretending to listen to Serena counseling Niko on the best way to manage troublesome slaves. In actual fact, however, she was only trying to delay the inevitable moment when Berkeley would ask her about what was really going on at Cliff's little Soho sporting goods store.
Just at the moment when Berkeley sternly took her arm and murmured her name, a furious bellow from the center of the room drew everyone's attention. Agent Brasov, who had come to the party dressed as a soccer player, could be seen stumbling around with his Manchester United jersey covering his head and temporarily trapping his arms. He was struggling and cursing, unable to see anything or get his arms free, since a grinning Dee was holding the jersey twisted in place over his head. When Dee looked up from his work and saw that he had an audience, his grin became positively diabolical. In a flash, he had taken hold of the waistband of Agent Brasov's shorts, and yanked them down to the man's knees, quite effectively hobbling him. Another muffled roar from the unfortunate Boris accompanied this action. From nipples to calves, he was practically naked, although the final frontier of his masculine modesty was protected by a rather skimpy pair of red briefs.
"Oh my goodness!" exclaimed the blond woman, and clutched her friend for support at the sight of so much magnificent male flesh and muscle exposed to the eyes of everyone in the room. For Boris was indeed a fine specimen, strong and well-built, with a mat of brown fur covering his athletic chest.
"Oh no, Dee, stop that!" protested Diana weakly, but she was too far away to do anything, nor did it seem like she wanted to go running over there to tackle Dee again.
At that moment, with a jerk and a heave, Boris managed to free his head from the neck of his jersey, although his arms were still trapped inside it, and Dee was still holding it in place. His expression reflected his disbelief and outrage at the towering insult to his dignity being visited upon him.
Dee abruptly moved behind him and held him around the neck in a headlock. "Look at all the pretty ladies, Boris," he sneered, just before taking a firm hold of the back of the red briefs and yanking them up into what must have been a singularly painful wedgie.
Boris's eyes bugged out and his mouth opened to release another angry yell, but this time what came out was more of a squeak.
Dee saluted Diana and waved his leash at the other guests before running to rejoin his apparently unconcerned master who, had been leaning comfortably against the doorjamb the whole time.
"Dee, you dog," said Ted with admiration, secretly feeling deeply relieved that Dee hadn't done that to him when he'd had the chance earlier.
"Aw, Boris, what the hell?" Diana tried to sound sympathetic, but the fact that she wanted to double over with laughter was making that difficult.
"Who on earth is that?" asked the Commissioner. "Diana, you do know some odd people."
"And you don't?" Diana rolled her eyes at him and sent the pop star and her friend to assist Boris.
Niko pushed forward into her line of vision. "Diana, I believe that my slaves and I might follow the example of Detectives MacLean and Laytner and be on our way. But before I go, allow me to congratulate you on the fascinating Roman sub-theme of your Halloween party. In addition to your own lovely portrayal of Diana the huntress, you've had Julius Caesar, gladiators, slaves and a lion. This has been a most entertaining evening."
"Yeah, that's true, isn't it?" remarked Diana, who seized the opportunity to latch onto his arm and edge away from Berkeley. "I didn't really plan a Roman sub-theme, though. It just worked out that way." As she passed Ted, she punched him playfully. "And what kind of lion are you, anyway? Lions are supposed to win fights with unarmed Christians, but in this case, we all saw the slave beating up the lion."
"Hey, gimme a break here," protested Ted. "That was a pretty tough slave. But if you toss some soft, slow Christians into the coliseum, I promise to maul 'em good."
Dee walked up to Ryo, grinning in triumph. "Well?" he asked, handing the end of his leash to Ryo. "Did I do good?"
Ryo tried not to smile. "I think the wedgie may have been overkill. Wasn't Diana trying to make him jealous? It's possible that you bruised the very parts she's interested in."
Dee shrugged. "Not our problem. Maybe someone can find him an ice-pack." He reached for his coat, which was draped over Ryo's arm. "Hey, do you mind if I put this on? I think I ripped a few more stitches. I'm getting kind of chilly."
Ryo's eyes took in the somewhat shredded state of Dee's slave tunic. Grappling with Ted and then Agent Brasov had certainly taken a toll on the too-tight costume. The stitches had come out all down one side-seam, and the skirt of the garment had become partially detached at the front. Ryo could almost see the fly of Dee's briefs. Yes, it would be better to cover him up.
"Yeah, go ahead and put it on," Ryo murmured, and he stepped closer to help Dee into his coat.
"Hello Dee! Hi Ryo," said a breathless female voice, and the two men looked around.
"Annette," said Dee. "Um, nice costume. Who or what are you supposed to be?" Annette Hinkle worked in the records department of the NYPD and had once gone on a couple of dates with Drake. She was a passionate born-again Christian with very strong views about pre-marital sex, and Dee thought that Drake was an idiot for ever going down that road. But all Drake's women tended to be on the kooky or difficult side, and there didn't seem to be any way to cure him of that.
"Mary Magdalene," she replied, preening slightly. She had a very impressive bust that was obviously receiving wonderbra-type support that wouldn't have existed in the days of Jesus. "Do you like it?"
Dee tore his eyes away with difficulty. "Ah, well, 'like' is too mild a word," he said with a nervous sideways glance at Ryo, but to his relief, Ryo wasn't looking at Annette. There was a pair of uniformed police officers walking up the stairs toward them. They were accompanied by a large, florid woman wearing a huge, gold cross.
"Annette," Ryo said, "isn't that your mom?"
"Yeah, and those cops are here to make an arrest. It's so exciting! You guys should stick around."
"Uh, no, thanks," said Dee, sensing the approach of another delay. Damn it, he just wanted to get home with Ryo and take advantage of the fact that Bikky was gone overnight. "We make arrests all the time, so it's not that exciting for us. We've kind of got to go, anyway."
"No sir," said one of the two uniformed police officers. "We may need you to stay a while and give us a statement. You two were just at that party, correct?"
"Yes, we were, Officer," Ryo said, his eyes sharpening with interest. "I'm Detective Randy MacLean and this is Detective Dee Laytner. We're 27th."
Unaccountably, both uniforms bristled. "Oh shit, it's YOU two again," one of them said.
"Hey, buddy, have we met?" Dee squared up to the man.
"No, but you guys are always in the fucking news, making high profile busts. You'd better not be planning to muscle in on this one."
"Yes, this one is ours," said his partner.
"Excuse me, Officer Herndt, but don't we have more important things to do?" demanded the large woman. "Like go in there and catch a kidnapper, for example?"
"Do you still want us to stay and give statements?" asked Ryo.
"Nope, I think we got enough witnesses in there," said Officer Herndt, scanning the room. "If we need anything more from you, we'll contact you at your precinct."
Annette's mother pushed past them and strode into the room crying, "Rowan! Praise Lord Jesus! We're here to save you!"
Rowan's expression was exactly like that of a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming Mac truck, unable to move as the woman advanced. When she clasped the small slave to her heaving bosom, Rowan finally reacted, letting out a smothered yelp of alarm.
Officer Herndt's companion gave Ryo and Dee a pointed look. "Well, weren't you on your way out?" he asked rudely.
"They were leaving, anyway," said Annette stoutly to Officer Herndt's companion, before flashing an apologetic look at Dee. "I'll tell you all about it tomorrow," she added under her breath before following the two officers into the room.
"We're leaving, right?" Dee asked Ryo a little nervously. He could see that his partner seemed to be hesitating, perhaps out of curiosity, or maybe out of a desire not to be ordered around by these two uptight uniforms.
"Dee, are you getting the impression that the police consider Rowan to be a kidnap victim?"
"Yeah, but it ain't our business tonight. Besides it'll be all over the grapevine tomorrow. We'll get the scoop first thing, I'm sure."
Ryo didn't answer, so Dee put the handle of his leash in Ryo's hand and started walking away in an attempt to tow Ryo with him.
Ryo responded by giving the leash a sharp yank. "Wait another minute, Slave," he said firmly. Dee sighed.
"Officers," exclaimed Mrs. Hinkle, "there you see the foul kidnapper of our beloved and formerly innocent Rowan." She pointed an imperious finger directly at Niko, whose mouth dropped open in shock. "Please arrest him forthwith."
"Kidnapper?" Niko exclaimed. "Me? There must be some mistake!"
"Oh, no. No mistake," said Mrs. Hinkle. "We've had a private detective watching you for several days, even before you sent the ransom note."
"Ransom note?" Niko echoed, looking utterly confused. "What are you talking about?"
Diana placed a hand on Berkeley's arm. "Sweetie, this is exactly what I was afraid of. You're sure Niko paid for the ballroom?"
"Don't worry, my dear." He patted her hand reassuringly. "We went to the front desk and paid together, I for the curtain and he for this room. You won't find yourself out of pocket on anything."
"Thanks, Berkie," she breathed, gazing up at him. "I knew I could count on you."
"You can always count on me, Dee-Dee. What do you think is going to happen to poor Niko?"
"Well, not too much unless some reporters show up," she said unsympathetically. "They might hold him overnight, but I don't think they have enough evidence to proceed. That's what I told Mrs. Hinkle, but she insisted on coming to 'rescue' Rowan with officers present."
Berkeley's eyes narrowed at the sight of the two police officers questioning Niko. "Is that why it has become an NYPD matter rather than an FBI matter?"
"Bingo. If someone is going to end up with egg on their face over this, it sure isn't going to be me. Besides I owe that royal bitch Captain Vivian Tackley at the 4th a little grief."
The Commissioner frowned disapprovingly at her. "Dee-Dee, I shall be most displeased if this evasion of responsibility by the FBI leads to bad press and a lawsuit for the NYPD."
"Aw, Berkie, and you with the silver tongue! I'm not worried about that at all. I have complete faith in you." She beamed adoringly up at him, and he shook his head in reluctant admiration at her audacity.
The clock read 9:15 when Dee and Ryo finally entered Ryo's apartment and took off their coats. Ryo frowned slightly as he looked at the time. Even though they could get up a little later than usual tomorrow due to Bikky being away overnight, they still had to get up at six. He gazed appreciatively at the way the muscles rippled in Dee's mostly exposed back as he hung up his coat on the row of hooks next to the door, and revised their wake-up time to a possible six-thirty.
Dee turned around and regarded him almost shyly. "So? I take it I'm still a slave?"
"Yes, you are," Ryo said. "Until you fall asleep tonight."
"Uhhh...Okay, then. What, um, do you want to do with your slave?" Dee was looking at him with an eagerness he was trying not to let show, and Ryo wanted to laugh. Dee was obviously thinking 'sex slave' thoughts, but he was about to get a big surprise.
"Hmmm...." Ryo tried his best to look thoughtful as he ran a finger down one of Dee's biceps. "I have one or two ideas."
"Yeah?" Dee said softly and stepped closer to him. "Like what?" He put his hand on Ryo's waist and caressed him gently.
Ryo moved into the touch, and reached up to stroke the side of Dee's face. He tried not to get distracted by how handsome his partner was. He knew he shouldn't underestimate Dee's powers of seduction, either.
"Put your hands behind your back, Slave," he whispered, and waited for Dee to comply.
Dee did as he was told, although not without a quiet 'Aw" of disappointment, but Ryo immediately rewarded him by kissing him. Dee's mouth opened readily against his, and after a moment, he felt the tip of Dee's tongue tapping his suggestively. Come and get me it seemed to say.
Ryo licked briefly at Dee's open mouth before pulling back. If he let the kiss go on, things might start happening a little more quickly than he wanted. Kissing Dee was very exciting-- always had been. He knew it would get him hard, and he didn't want to be hard just yet.
"Bab-- I mean, Master?" Dee's eyes were dark with desire. His hands were still behind his back and there was a noticeable bulge where the torn skirt of his costume revealed his underwear. "Would you like your slave to please you with his body?"
Ryo took a step backwards and looked at Dee mischievously. "Actually, I'd prefer my slave to please me by cleaning up the kitchen."
Dee blinked. "What?"
Ryo found the stunned expression on Dee's face quite gratifying. "That includes sweeping and mopping," he said. "And come to think of it, I believe I'd like to have the living room dusted as well."
"Ryo-- what the fuck?" Dee was staring at him in dismay. "I thought we were gonna--"
"I know what you thought. But I'm really still too pissed off at you." Ryo folded his arms across his chest. "Every time I think about you manipulating me into that thong and then asking JJ to dump punch all over my jeans, I get so mad I can hardly see straight."
"But, Ryo, let me--"
"And then when I think of what happened with Rose when I thought you cared enough to watch my back, I get so mad that I just want to throw you out of here."
Dee said nothing, just looked at him unhappily.
"Furthermore, when I think about how much my ass still hurts from those two whipcracks you gave me, and how hard it's going to be for me to sit in my chair and get any paperwork done tomorrow, I find myself thinking about... well, sharing the pain. But," he added, "I don't think that would succeed in teaching you a lesson at all. And I don't actually want you to feel really mindblowing pain like I did earlier. There's got to be a better way for me to make you understand how upset I am."
Dee's expression was anxious. "Ryo, I do understand. And I feel like shit. Honestly. I've done some stupid things in my life, but tonight, I think I had all the brain power of a zucchini. I regret everything, every stupid thing I did and didn't do. And I'll do anything, anything, if it'll make you forgive me."
Ryo pointed at the kitchen. "Start cleaning, then. I'm going to go and watch TV and try to get myself into a more forgiving state of mind."
"Can I change my clothes?"
"No." Ryo walked into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of juice before disappearing into the living room without a backward look.
Dee sighed and started cleaning. First he put away all the clean dishes in the dish rack, then he washed the few dirty plates and cups that were sitting in the sink. He tried not to think about exactly what that Rat Bastard Berkeley Rose might have done to Ryo back at the party, because when such thoughts crossed his mind, his hands tightened too hard on the plates and cups and he was pretty sure he wouldn't get back into Ryo's good graces by breaking his crockery. He forced himself to focus on the task at hand, pouring his energy into wiping the counters and the table, and even scrubbing down the cabinets. He was quite an efficient and fast cleaner when he wanted to be; his years spent living in the communal environment of the Saint Julian's orphanage had not been without regular KP duty.
Finally, after sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor, he stuck his head into the living room. "Still mad at me?" he asked the man on the sofa.
"Yes," said Ryo. "Dust."
"Sure thing," said Dee and went to get Ryo's feather duster. He began dusting the baseboards and the window sills, while trying not to be too obvious about watching Ryo. Ryo was flipping from channel to channel, unable to settle on anything in particular. He stayed on a news channel for a few minutes, and right in the middle of a boring report about how a guy had grown a pumpkin hydroponically in his apartment for Halloween, the story was interrupted by breaking news.
"We interrupt this story with breaking news of the resolution of a kidnap situation at the New York Palace Hotel. It appears that police are taking well-known businessman Niko Kominos in for questioning regarding the alleged kidnapping of one Rowan Hinkle several weeks ago. Lara Shirner is on the scene."
"Thanks, Lewis." Lara Shirner stood with a microphone in her hand in the courtyard of the New York Palace Hotel. "They're just bringing him out now. Mr. Kominos! Do you have any comments? Did you indeed kidnap Rowan Hinkle?"
Dee gave up all pretense of dusting and came to stand next to the sofa, his eyes riveted to the TV.
Niko, flanked by the two officers from the 4th, immediately responded. "I most certainly did not! This is an outrage. The police have not done their homework in this case and the facts will bear me out. Who the hell called the press, anyway?"
"Come on sir," said Officer Herndt. "The cruiser's right over here."
"Officer," cried Lara. "Are you willing to make a statement?"
"Absolutely not. This is an ongoing police investigation. We just want to question Mr. Kominos, that's all." Officer Herndt and his partner turned away, taking Niko with them.
The camera showed Annette and her mother next exiting the hotel with Rowan sobbing and struggling between them.
"Mrs. Hinkle," said Lara. "Thank you so much for your call earlier. Our viewers are very interested in this kidnapping story. Can you tell us what happened in there?"
"Well, yes, I can tell you a little bit, but not too much, as the Police Commissioner has advised me that it was a mistake to call the press," said Mrs. Hinkle. The camera zoomed out a little, and Dee and Ryo caught sight of a figure in a familiar lion suit edging closer. Annette stuck her ample chest out and looked flirtatiously at the camera, while Rowan continued sobbing uncontrollably.
Lara indicated Rowan and said to Mrs. Hinkle, "It looks as though the kidnapping was quite an ordeal. How is your s-- er, your daught-- er..." Lara trailed away, frowning.
"It is thanks to the grace of God Almighty that my SON Rowan is just fine," boomed Mrs. Hinkle, and behind her, the lion said "Ah-HAH!" in tones of triumph. He quickly clapped a paw over his mouth however, and then it looked as though someone reached out and dragged him out of the view of the camera.
"Mr. Hinkle." Lara thrust the microphone in Rowan's face. "Can you speak a few words about the relief you must be feeling at being restored to your loving family at last?"
"I hate my family!" wailed Rowan. "I hate praying all the time! They don't understand me! Niko is my friend!"
"Rowan, honey, I'm sure you don't mean that," said Annette nervously.
"He's just overwrought," said Mrs. Hinkle. "If you'll excuse us, I think we'd best get him home as soon as possible. Come along, dear. Annette, take his other hand." They dragged Rowan off between them.
Lara turned once more to the camera. "According to Mrs. Hinkle, the Commissioner of the NYPD is also here tonight. Let's go in and get a statement from him, shall we? I'm Lara Shirner and you're watching breaking news on New York One. Back to you for now, Lewis."
Ryo changed the channel, and Dee was relieved. He didn't want to see the Commissioner again that evening, either, even if it was only on TV. He turned his head and looked at Ryo hopefully.
"Good thing we got the hell out of there before New York One arrived, huh?"
"Still mad at me?"
Ryo shrugged. Dee dropped to his knees and dusted his way a little closer to Ryo. "What can I do to make it up to you, babe? Laundry? Vacuuming?"
Ryo shrugged again and didn't look at him. He kept changing channels.
"I don't suppose a blowjob would do the trick?"
Ryo snorted and shook his head, as if to say, 'Typical!'
Dee gazed at him, thinking. Ryo had been possessive of him, almost romantic when he had been ordering him around back at the hotel. Now he was being so distant. Dee wanted to get Ryo pointed in sexy and affectionate directions again, but he wasn't sure how to go about it. Unless... Something stirred in the back of his mind. Ryo had been cold and distant at the hotel, too. At least until he had whacked him with the sword. It was after that that Ryo had changed and become caring and protective. Perhaps that was the secret. "Hey," Dee said, leaning across Ryo to dust the end table next to his lover's arm. "You wanna, um, whip my ass so it's sore like yours?"
"No," said Ryo. "I don't want to risk injuring you."
Dee looked back at him. "Well, how about you just, er, smack me with your sword again, huh?"
"Are you asking me to physically punish you?"
"Well, not necessarily. I was hoping you might change your mind about that. But if it'll help you get over being mad at me, I'm all for it."
There was a silence, and then Ryo said, "Yes. I think I want to spank you, but I won't if you really don't want it."
"What do you mean? Are you saying I can say no to the spanking?"
"Yes. I'm not about to force you to do anything, especially something painful."
"But you said you wanted to spank me. On a scale of one to ten, how much do you want that?"
Ryo thought for a moment. "Forty-seven," he said finally, with the ghost of a smile.
"Shit," muttered Dee. "But, I can say no.... and you won't hold it against me and refuse to go on vacation with me? You'll forgive me?"
"Yes, you can say no, and everything will be all right between us, because despite all the rotten and stupid things you've done, I still love you the same as I did yesterday, and I've never been able to stay mad at you for long, anyway. We'll call it a night, go to bed and get some sleep."
"Wait a minute. Sleep?"
"And if I submit to the spanking, are we gonna go to sleep right after?"
"Probably not," said Ryo, again with that same faint smile. "You'll probably be too uncomfortable to sleep right away. We'll have to do something to take your mind off the pain."
"Oh? Like what?"
"Something we're going to need... lubrication for."
Dee looked at Ryo for a long minute. "That's a hell of a choice, babe."
"Okay, 'Master.' So what you're saying is that if I say no to the spanking, we're gonna go to bed and get a good night's sleep and no one's gonna get their rocks off, whereas if I let you beat my ass, we're gonna make sweet love after?"
"That's... that's sneaky, manipulative blackmail!"
"Well, you should know." Ryo folded his arms and actually smirked. "You're the king of sneaky and manipulative."
Dee stared at him, his open mouth working soundlessly as various feelings fought with each other inside him.
"You-- you-- you're a friggin' sadist! You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"Yes, quite a bit," admitted Ryo cheerfully. "But I'm starting to get tired, so please make up your mind quickly."
"Er... Do I get a safe word?"
"Yes. But if you use it too soon, the deal is void and we're going to sleep."
"What? That's not fair! How soon is too soon, anyway?"
"I'll leave that particular calculation up to your judgment. You've got ten seconds to give me your answer." Ryo looked at his watch calmly. "Ten, nine, eight..."
"Wh-what are you gonna spank me with?"
"Five, four, three..."
"Okay! I agree to be spanked, for Christ's sake. Quit counting, already."
"All right then." Ryo grinned wickedly at Dee. "I'll see you in the bedroom in five minutes. Go in there now and strip. I just need to get a few... implements for your punishment."
~end of Chapter 19~